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Truck Bomber, Gunmen Attack Foreigners' Hotel In Kabul

Afghan security personnel stand alert at the site after a powerful truck bomb targeting a hotel used by foreign contractors exploded on the outskirts of Kabul on August 1.

A battle between Taliban gunmen and Afghan security forces raged through the night at a guesthouse and logistics facility used by foreign contractors in Kabul.

Police said a powerful truck bomb exploded at the gates of Northgate Hotel about 0130 local time on August 1 and militants stormed into the compound.

As dawn broke on August 1, gunfire and occasional explosions still could be heard coming from the Northgate Hotel, a heavily guarded compound to the east of Kabul's international airport that is fortified with blast walls and watchtowers.

Roads in the neighborhood were blocked off by Afghan security forces and columns of vehicles with Afghan troops and police were deployed in the area.

Afghan media reported that forces from NATO's Resolute Force mission also were involved in what correspondents described as a "clearing operation."

Correspondents also reported hearing the sound of rocket-propelled grenades being launched and exploding within the vast compound.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the truck bomb cleared the way for Taliban fighters to enter the compound with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and assault rifles.

Afghan officials did not immediately release complete casualty figures. But the BBC reports that Kabul police confirmed at least one policeman was killed and another injured by gunfire.

The Taliban, which is known to exaggerate casualties caused by its attacks, claimed that more than 100 foreigners had been killed and wounded -- calling them "American invaders."

In addition to housing foreign guests, the Northgate Hotel is a logistics facility that provides support services to foreign military and civilian contractors in Afghanistan.

In 2013, the Northgate Hotel was granted diplomatic status, allowing it to continue using private foreign security companies rather than the Afghan Interior Ministry’s Afghan Public Protection Force.

A similar Taliban attack against the Northgate Hotel in July 2013 -- a truck bomb followed by a gun battle -- killed nine people, including four Nepalese and one Briton.

The latest attack comes about a week after the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a demonstration by members of the mainly Shi'ite Hazara minority, killing at least 80 people.

It also follows an attack in June on a convoy of Nepalese security contractors who worked for the Canadian Embassy and other attacks against foreigners in Kabul -- including a suicide attack in January at Camp Baron, a camp used by foreign contractors.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, Tolo TV, and BBC

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